ThisMan.org is Probably Viral Marketing, So Shut Up and Quit Freaking Out About Him…



Ever dream this man? If you say yes, you’re probably lying or in on the joke. Or you are easily influenced. Something. Because if the mysterious website ThisMan.org isn’t a viral marketing campaign of some sort, I’ll eat Dinty Moore Beef Stew again, and I haven’t eaten that crap since the Dinty Moore Incident of 1975, which laid my entire family low for a day or so.

ThisMan.org is a website that’s been slowly but surely making it into tweets and blog posts all across the Web. Just tonight auteur of awkwardness Tim Heidecker (the “Tim” in Tim & Eric Awesome Show: Great Jobre-tweeted someone else’s link to the site and said it was “Scaring the shit outta” him.

And that’s a typical reaction to ThisMan.org, because of the beetle-browed visage you see above. It’s just weird. Theories about “This Man” as found on the site certainly add to the surreal feeling. Here’s just one supposed (alleged, apparent) theory about “This Man”:

It is the most interesting theory and the one that has the greatest implications, but it has also the lowest scientific credibility. According to this theory this man is a real person, who can enter people’s dreams by means of specific psychological skills. Some believe that in real life this man looks like the man in the dreams. Others think that the man in the dreams looks completely different from his real life counterpart. Some people seem to believe that behind this man there is a mental conditioning plan developed by a major corporation.

Creepy shit.

All this really means that Italian “guerrilla marketer” Andrea Natella is pretty good at what he does, except for that whole private domain registration thingy. Because Natella is the guy who registered the site on January 24, 2009. And Andrea Natella doesn’t hide what he does from the curious surfer who learns his name.

He’s a “sociologist specializing in marketing” and once wrote an article about the “origins of the subversive use of the hoax in Italy.” He runs GuerrigliaMarketing.it, where he defines “Guerrilla Marketing” as “a set of non-conventional communication techniques that achieves maximum visibility with minimum investment.” Natella also states on his site that the “memetic virus can replicate itself in the minds of consumers.”

You know, like a slightly creepy-looking sketch of a dude on a website with all sorts of implied, strange backstory. Like ThisMan.org.

There’s a bit of entertainment value in being creeped-out by such things until you realize that not only is the effort completely calculated in nature, but the person behind it (the “Calculator,” I guess) is also actively using you to further the “memetic virus” of his product, whatever it is. Not only that, he’s achieving “maximum visibility” and all he’s doing is running a website with a page where you can download fliers about “This Man” in a wide variety of languages. Fliers that are apparently in use the world over.

That may not change the entertainment value for some people, I know, but for me, it’s almost like Dinty Moore all over again, man. I enjoyed the hell out of that stew with the big thumbprint on the can the night I ate it, all those years ago, but after the horrific, Exorcist-esque denouement of what that beef stew did to my family 7 hours later, I could never even look at giant thumbprints on cans of stew again. With “This Man” I was entertained and briefly intrigued, but a few hours and a tweeted link later I realized I’d just been used to transport some sort of virus or parasite and I felt hollowed out, wasted and a little disgusted.

(Okay, I’m stretching, but work with me…)

I’m not sure as to what “This Man” is selling. In fact, he may just be an experiment meant to act as proof-of-concept for Andrea Natella’s expressed theories. Whichever the case, I don’t feel like buying, traveling the maze, puking up the stew, none of it. Finito, fratello.


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